English Language Proficiency Test : Essential Information

Study concepts, example questions & explanations for English Language Proficiency Test

varsity tutors app store varsity tutors android store

All English Language Proficiency Test Resources

1 Diagnostic Test 29 Practice Tests Question of the Day Flashcards Learn by Concept

Example Questions

Example Question #1 : Essential Information

Since its discovery and classification as the ninth planet in our solar system in 1930, Pluto has been the subject of much controversy in the scientific community.  Its small size and extreme distance from Earth have made gathering specific data about its characteristics difficult, and no real consensus exists amongst astronomers about the information that is known about Pluto.  In 2006, the International Astronomical Union created an official definition for the term "planet" which listed three criteria for classification:

  1. The object must be in orbit around the sun.
  2. The object must be massive enough to be rounded into a sphere by its own gravity.
  3. The object must have "cleared the neighborhood" around its orbit.

Because Pluto is much smaller than the other objects in its orbit, it fails to meet the third condition and has since been known as a "dwarf planet".  Some scientists have gone so far as to suggest that Pluto may actually be one of the many moons of its neighboring planet, Neptune.

When Pluto was first discovered in 1930, astronomers estimated that it may be as large as earth and thus were confident that it was, in fact, a planet.  As our ability to gather information about outer space continues to improve through more powerful telescopes and space probes, scientists are now able to use the new, more accurate information they receive to accurately classify objects in space.  While some still argue that Pluto meets the accepted criteria to be known as a planet, for the time being, conventional scientific thinking will hold that our solar system only has eight planets.

The writer places the word "planet" in quotation marks to indicate that _________________.

Possible Answers:

the term was first used by the International Astronomical Association

there is still much debate over the definition of the word

the word is being used in a meaning that is contrary to its accepted definition

readers should look up the definition of the word before they proceed with the rest of the passage

Correct answer:

there is still much debate over the definition of the word

Explanation:

Since the main focus of the passage is to explain the debate over the classification of Pluto as either a "planet" or a "dwarf planet", it is clear that the writer feels neither term is definitive.

Example Question #2 : Essential Information

Passage adapted from The Call of the Wild by Jack London (1903)

Again Hal's whip fell upon the dogs. They threw themselves against the breast-bands, dug their feet into the packed snow, got down low to it, and put forth all their strength. The sled held as though it were an anchor. After two efforts, they stood still, panting. The whip was whistling savagely, when once more Mercedes interfered. She dropped on her knees before Buck, with tears in her eyes, and put her arms around his neck.

"You poor, poor dears," she cried sympathetically, "why don't you pull hard?--then you wouldn't be whipped." Buck did not like her, but he was feeling too miserable to resist her, taking it as part of the day's miserable work.

 One of the onlookers, who had been clenching his teeth to suppress hot speech, now spoke up:--

 "It's not that I care a whoop what becomes of you, but for the dogs' sakes I just want to tell you, you can help them a mighty lot by breaking out that sled. The runners are froze fast. Throw your weight against the gee-pole, right and left, and break it out."

 A third time the attempt was made, but this time, following the advice, Hal broke out the runners which had been frozen to the snow. The overloaded and unwieldy sled forged ahead, Buck and his mates struggling frantically under the rain of blows. A hundred yards ahead the path turned and sloped steeply into the main street. It would have required an experienced man to keep the top-heavy sled upright, and Hal was not such a man. As they swung on the turn the sled went over, spilling half its load through the loose lashings. The dogs never stopped. The lightened sled bounded on its side behind them. They were angry because of the ill treatment they had received and the unjust load. Buck was raging. He broke into a run, the team following his lead. Hal cried "Whoa! whoa!" but they gave no heed. He tripped and was pulled off his feet. The capsized sled ground over him, and the dogs dashed on up the street, adding to the gayety of Skaguay as they scattered the remainder of the outfit along its chief thoroughfare. 

In the passage, "runners" are ______________.

Possible Answers:

part of the sled

the dogs pulling the sled

Hal and Mercedes

the men who run alongside the sled

Correct answer:

part of the sled

Explanation:

The onlooker mentions that the "runners" are "froze fast" until Hal is able to free them with the help of the dogs. Thus, it seems clear that runners are neither people nor dogs, but rather a part of the sled which has become stuck in the snow.

Example Question #3 : Essential Information

Passage adapted from The Call of the Wild by Jack London (1903)

Again Hal's whip fell upon the dogs. They threw themselves against the breast-bands, dug their feet into the packed snow, got down low to it, and put forth all their strength. The sled held as though it were an anchor. After two efforts, they stood still, panting. The whip was whistling savagely, when once more Mercedes interfered. She dropped on her knees before Buck, with tears in her eyes, and put her arms around his neck.

"You poor, poor dears," she cried sympathetically, "why don't you pull hard?--then you wouldn't be whipped." Buck did not like her, but he was feeling too miserable to resist her, taking it as part of the day's miserable work.

 One of the onlookers, who had been clenching his teeth to suppress hot speech, now spoke up:--

 "It's not that I care a whoop what becomes of you, but for the dogs' sakes I just want to tell you, you can help them a mighty lot by breaking out that sled. The runners are froze fast. Throw your weight against the gee-pole, right and left, and break it out."

 A third time the attempt was made, but this time, following the advice, Hal broke out the runners which had been frozen to the snow. The overloaded and unwieldy sled forged ahead, Buck and his mates struggling frantically under the rain of blows. A hundred yards ahead the path turned and sloped steeply into the main street. It would have required an experienced man to keep the top-heavy sled upright, and Hal was not such a man. As they swung on the turn the sled went over, spilling half its load through the loose lashings. The dogs never stopped. The lightened sled bounded on its side behind them. They were angry because of the ill treatment they had received and the unjust load. Buck was raging. He broke into a run, the team following his lead. Hal cried "Whoa! whoa!" but they gave no heed. He tripped and was pulled off his feet. The capsized sled ground over him, and the dogs dashed on up the street, adding to the gayety of Skaguay as they scattered the remainder of the outfit along its chief thoroughfare. 

As used by the onlooker, the term, "breaking out" most nearly means __________________.

Possible Answers:

rocking the sled from side to side

having all of the dogs push the sled from behind

taking all moving parts off of the sled in order to lighten it

getting a team of horses to help pull the sled out of the snow

Correct answer:

rocking the sled from side to side

Explanation:

The onlooker advises Hal to "throw your weight against the gee-pole, right and left". Clearly, he means to rock the sled sideways until be is free. No mention is made of using horses, repositioning the dogs, or removing anything from the sled.

Example Question #4 : Essential Information

This passage is an adapted from Up From Slavery by Booker T. Washington (1901)

To those of the white race who look to the incoming of those of foreign birth and strange tongue and habits for the prosperity of the South, were I permitted I would repeat what I say to my own race, “Cast down your bucket where you are.” Cast it down among the eight millions of Negroes whose habits you know, whose fidelity and love you have tested in days when to have proved treacherous meant the ruin of your firesides. Cast down your bucket among these people who have, without strikes and labour wars, tilled your fields, cleared your forests, builded your railroads and cities, and brought forth treasures from the bowels of the earth, and helped make possible this magnificent representation of the progress of the South. Casting down your bucket among my people, helping and encouraging them as you are doing on these grounds, and to education of head, hand, and heart, you will find that they will buy your surplus land, make blossom the waste places in your fields, and run your factories. While doing this, you can be sure in the future, as in the past, that you and your families will be surrounded by the most patient, faithful, law-abiding, and unresentful people that the world has seen. As we have proved our loyalty to you in the past, in nursing your children, watching by the sick-bed of your mothers and fathers, and often following them with tear-dimmed eyes to their graves, so in the future, in our humble way, we shall stand by you with a devotion that no foreigner can approach, ready to lay down our lives, if need be, in defence of yours, interlacing our industrial, commercial, civil, and religious life with yours in a way that shall make the interests of both races one. In all things that are purely social we can be as separate as the fingers, yet one as the hand in all things essential to mutual progress.

In the passage, whose "buckets" is the speaker calling upon to lower?

Possible Answers:

Former slaves

The United States Government

Recent Immigrants

White Southerners

Correct answer:

White Southerners

Explanation:

The opening sentence of the passages addresses, "those of the white race who look to the incoming of those of foreign birth and strange tongue and habits for the prosperity of the South."

Thus it is clear that the speaker is asking white Southerners to "cast your buckets" in the direction of the eight million African-Americans who already reside in the South.

 

Example Question #5 : Essential Information

This passage is adapted from Sister Carrie by Theodore Dreiser (1901)

The nature of these vast retail combinations, should they ever permanently disappear, will form an interesting chapter in the commercial history of our nation. Such a flowering out of a modest trade principle the world had never witnessed up to that time. They were along the line of the most effective retail organization, with hundreds of stores coordinated into one, and laid out upon the most imposing and economic basis. They were handsome, bustling, successful affairs, with a host of clerks and a swarm of patrons. Carrie passed along the busy aisles, much affected by the remarkable displays of trinkets, dress goods, shoes, stationery, jewelry. Each separate counter was a show place of dazzling interest and attraction. She could not help feeling the claim of each trinket and valuable upon her personally and yet she did not stop. There was nothing there which she could not have used—nothing which she did not long to own. The dainty slippers and stockings, the delicately frilled skirts and petticoats, the laces, ribbons, hair-combs, purses, all touched her with individual desire, and she felt keenly the fact that not any of these things were in the range of her purchase. She was a work-seeker, an outcast without employment, one whom the average employé could tell at a glance was poor and in need of a situation.

The passage is a description of a _________________.

Possible Answers:

collection of street vendors

mansion belonging to a very wealthy person

warehouse where goods are stored

large department store

Correct answer:

large department store

Explanation:

The writer mentions a "retail organization with hundreds of stores coordinated into one" and later describes, "trinkets, dress goods, shoes, stationary, and jewelry." Thus it is clear that he is describing a large department store.

Example Question #6 : Essential Information

This passage is an adapted from Up From Slavery by Booker T. Washington (1901)

To those of the white race who look to the incoming of those of foreign birth and strange tongue and habits for the prosperity of the South, were I permitted I would repeat what I say to my own race, “Cast down your bucket where you are.” Cast it down among the eight millions of Negroes whose habits you know, whose fidelity and love you have tested in days when to have proved treacherous meant the ruin of your firesides. Cast down your bucket among these people who have, without strikes and labour wars, tilled your fields, cleared your forests, builded your railroads and cities, and brought forth treasures from the bowels of the earth, and helped make possible this magnificent representation of the progress of the South. Casting down your bucket among my people, helping and encouraging them as you are doing on these grounds, and to education of head, hand, and heart, you will find that they will buy your surplus land, make blossom the waste places in your fields, and run your factories. While doing this, you can be sure in the future, as in the past, that you and your families will be surrounded by the most patient, faithful, law-abiding, and unresentful people that the world has seen. As we have proved our loyalty to you in the past, in nursing your children, watching by the sick-bed of your mothers and fathers, and often following them with tear-dimmed eyes to their graves, so in the future, in our humble way, we shall stand by you with a devotion that no foreigner can approach, ready to lay down our lives, if need be, in defence of yours, interlacing our industrial, commercial, civil, and religious life with yours in a way that shall make the interests of both races one. In all things that are purely social we can be as separate as the fingers, yet one as the hand in all things essential to mutual progress.

The speaker states that, "in all things that are purely social, we can be as separate as the fingers," in order to _________________.

Possible Answers:

acknowledge that white Southerners are probably not ready to accept African-Americans as full members of their society yet

clearly state that African-Americans do not want to associate with white Southerners except when absolutely necessary

demonstrate that it will be absolutely essential for white Southerners and African-Americans to socialize with each other on a regular basis

explain his belief that white Southerners and African-Americans can never be truly equal

Correct answer:

acknowledge that white Southerners are probably not ready to accept African-Americans as full members of their society yet

Explanation:

The key to this statement is the term, "purely social." Since the speaker has given many reasons why African-Americans are essential to the progress of the South, in this statement, he is recognizing that true equality is still a ways off, but that social separation should not stand in the way of "mutual progress."

Example Question #7 : Essential Information

1 With one of her relations only, Miss Dwarris found it needful to observe a certain restraint, for Miss Ley, perhaps the most distant of her cousins, was as plain-spoken as herself, and had, besides, a far keener wit whereby she could turn rash statements to the utter ridicule of the speaker. 2 Nor did Miss Dwarris precisely dislike this independent spirit; she looked upon her in fact with a certain degree of affection and not a little fear. 3 Miss Ley, seldom lacking a repartee, appeared really to enjoy the verbal contests, from which, by her greater urbanity, readiness, and knowledge, she usually emerged victorious: it confounded, but at the same time almost amused, the elder lady that a woman so much poorer than herself, with no smaller claims than others to the coveted inheritance, should venture not only to be facetious at her expense, but even to carry war into her very camp. 4 …No cherished opinion of Miss Dwarris was safe from satire—even her evangelicism was laughed at, and the rich old woman, unused to argument, was easily driven into self-contradiction; and then—for the victor took no pains to conceal her triumph—she grew pale and speechless with rage.

5 … Miss Ley, accustomed, when she went abroad in the winter, to let her little flat in Chelsea, had been obliged by unforeseen circumstances to return to England while her tenants were still in possession; and had asked Miss Dwarris whether she might stay with her in Old Queen Street. 6 The old tyrant, much as she hated her relations, hated still more to live alone; she needed some one on whom to vent her temper, and through the illness of a niece, due to spend March and April with her, had been forced to pass a month of solitude; she wrote back, in the peremptory fashion which, even with Miss Ley, she could not refrain from using, that she expected her on such and such a day by such and such a train. 7 It is not clear whether there was in the letter anything to excite in Miss Ley a contradictory spirit, or whether her engagements really prevented it; but, at all events, she answered that her plans made it more convenient to arrive on the day following and by a different train.

According to the passage, why is Miss Ley staying with Miss Dwarris?

Possible Answers:

Her traveling companion has remained behind in Chelsea

She is to be employed as Miss Dwarris’ caretaker

Her apartment is being rented by someone else

She is acting sheerly to spite Miss Dwarris

She has fallen ill unexpectedly

Correct answer:

Her apartment is being rented by someone else

Explanation:

In Sentence 5, we see the answer to this question. Miss Ley normally “lets” (rents) her “little flat in Chelsea” (apartment) while she is traveling abroad. This year, however, she has had “to return to England while her tenants were still in possession”; in other words, her own apartment is being rented, so she needs a different place to stay.

Passage adapted from W. Somerset Maugham’s The Merry-Go-Round (1904)

All English Language Proficiency Test Resources

1 Diagnostic Test 29 Practice Tests Question of the Day Flashcards Learn by Concept
Learning Tools by Varsity Tutors

Incompatible Browser

Please upgrade or download one of the following browsers to use Instant Tutoring: